Windows 11 update finally brings tabs and other features to File Explorer

Tabs in File Explorer
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Having been accessible through a tool in recent Insider builds, tabs for File Explorer are now available to all users in an update to Windows 11, rolling out from today alongside other features for the app.

The ability to have multiple tabs open in a single File Explorer window, similar to a web browser, is something that users, this writer included, have been wanting for years. It's felt like an obvious feature for the file manager to have, as we've all been in the situation where we've had to have multiple windows open to drag and drop files between folders.

As macOS has had tabbed windows in its Finder app since 10.9 Mavericks, it's a relief to see this feature cross over to Windows 11, however late this may feel to some.

But there's also other features arriving for the app, such as file suggestions and a new home page.

Analysis: It's about time

A homepage for File Explorer sounds strange at first, but it makes sense as an app that you most likely check every day on your PC. If you use Microsoft Edge or Apple's Safari web browser, you'll find some familiarity here, as they both feature a start page that shows your Favorite links, the latest news and more.

The same concept could work well for File Explorer, except for the latest news. Many users have network drives attached, and cloud storage folders that are prevalent in their Explorer sidebars. To have another easy method of reaching these will be welcome.

But the main feature for File Explorer will be tabs regardless. Having used the feature through ViveTool and following the steps to enable them in an Insider Build, which showcases features under development, it works as well as a web browser.

It's surprising to see this feature arrive so soon, especially with rumors that Windows 11's next major update, codenamed Sun Valley 2, is on track to be released in the second half of 2022. It makes us wonder if major updates are becoming a thing of the past for Microsoft, and instead, we're seeing major updates across the year.

With Windows Media Player and now improvements to the Start menu and File Explorer already appearing, we may be seeing the start of a reworked update process for Windows 11, without any of us knowing.

And if that's the case, we're all for it, and only makes us want Apple to do the same and move away from its major yearly releases.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.